Wednesday, July 31, 2019

It's Not Enough To Get Votes, You've Got To Get 'Em in the Right Places

I would say Biden seems more concerned about this than his closet rivals Considering that the Democrats won the popular vote in 2016 but lost the electoral vote, you would think this would be more on people's minds. Perhaps that helps explain how some of his rivals seem so enamored of positions that might indeed help run up the vote in California, New York or Massachusetts but not so much elsewhere.
This is problematic because the possibility of a split between popular and electoral vote results remains very real. In fact, some of the ways the country is changing--which are otherwise helpful for the Democrats--make such an outcome more, not less, probable.
I've written about this previously but I recommend this recent article by David Wasserman for a clear rehearsal of some of the relevant data.
"The nation's two most populous states, California and Texas, are at the heart of Democrats' geography problem.
Both behemoths are growing more diverse at a much faster rate than the nation — owing to booming Asian and Latino populations — and are trending toward Democrats. Yet neither blue California nor red Texas would play a pivotal role in a close 2020 election, potentially rendering millions of additional Democratic votes useless.
Over the past four years for which census estimates are available, California's population of nonwhite voting-age citizens has exploded by 1,585,499, while its number of white voting-age citizens has declined by a net 162,715. The Golden State's GOP is in free fall: In May 2018, the state's Republican registrants fell to third place behind "no party preference" voters for the first time. In 2016, Clinton stretched Barack Obama's 2012 margin from 3 million to 4.2 million votes. But padding that margin by another 1.2 million votes wouldn't yield the 2020 Democratic nominee a single additional Electoral vote.
Over the same time period, Texas has added a net 1,188,514 nonwhite voting-age citizens and just 200,002 white voting-age citizens. Texas' economic boom has attracted a diverse, highly professional workforce to burgeoning urban centers of Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio and shifted the state's politics leftward — especially as GOP votes have begun to "max out" in stagnant rural areas. In 2016, Clinton cut Obama's 2012 deficit from 1.2 million to just over 800,000. But again, even cutting Trump's margin by 800,000 wouldn't yield the 2020 Democratic nominee a single additional Electoral vote.
Democrats' potential inefficiencies aren't limited to California and Texas: The list of the nation's top 15 fastest-diversifying states also includes the sizable yet safely blue states of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington and Oregon."
Wasserman concludes:
"Mired at an approval rating in the low 40s, Trump has a narrow path to re-election. But the concentration of demographic change in noncompetitive states, particularly California and Texas, threatens to further widen the chasm between the popular vote and the Electoral College, easing his path. Trump could once again win with less than 47 percent, a victory threshold far below the share of the popular vote the Democratic nominee might need.
The ultimate nightmare scenario for Democrats might look something like this: Trump loses the popular vote by more than 5 million ballots, and the Democratic nominee converts Michigan and Pennsylvania back to blue. But Trump wins re-election by two Electoral votes by barely hanging onto Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Maine's 2nd Congressional District — one of the whitest and least college-educated districts in the country."
Likely? Maybe not. But Democrats should start taking the possibility seriously and adapt their politics accordingly. And no, I don't think it's a good idea to wait for the general election campaign to do so.
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Analysis: The nation's two most populous states, California and Texas, are at the heart of Democrats' geography problem.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Reparations: Still Unpopular After All These Years

The reparations topic came up in the Democratic debate tonight. It remains the case that this is a terrible issue for Democrats. Gallup has just released data that show, while the idea is more popular than the last time they asked about it (2002), it continues to be massively unpopular. The basic data are shown below: the public overall opposes reparations 67-29, whites oppose it 81-16, blacks support it 73-25 and Hispanics are split down the middle. Even Democrats oppose reparations slightly (49-47).
There is no way to look at these data and see the issue as anything but toxic to any Democrat seeking to beat Donald Trump.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Josh Marshall, Common Sense Democrat

Josh Marshall has a great piece up on Talking Points Memo about the politics off Medicare for All. It is eminently sensible and covers well both the facts of the situation and the standard objections Medicare for All advocates raise when it is pointed out just how electorally difficult this program would make things for the Democrats. Point #6 of the Common Sense Democrat creed is: Don't advocate clearly unpopular policies (if you want to win of course). Josh Marshall agrees!
Marshall's piece is behind a paywall but it's well worth seeking out if you are interested in this issue. But a few telling excerpts;
"In Democratic policy debates since 2016 there’s been a widespread and sometimes near dominant narrative that Medicare for All is the way forward and actually surprisingly popular...The problem is, the whole premise is false. A raft of public surveys show that Medicare for All has anything ranging from public support in the low 40s to dismal support down into the 20s. How is that reconcilable with all the polls showing that clear majorities support it? Like most political labels it’s not clear, beyond in an aspirational sense, what “Medicare for All” actually means. Survey after survey shows that when most people hear “Medicare for All” they assume something like a right for anyone who wanted it, regardless of age, to be able to get or buy into Medicare. Critically, most believe they and others would be able to keep their current private coverage if they chose to.
A new Marist poll illustrates the point, but it’s far from the only example. The poll asked Americans whether they supported “Medicare for all that want it, that is allow all Americans to choose between a national health insurance program or their own private health insurance.” 70% of adults thought that was a “good idea”.
When asked about “Medicare for all, that is a national health insurance program for all Americans that replaces private health insurance” the number fell to 41%. This isn’t an outlier. Numerous polls have shown roughly the same thing. A 2018 Reuters/Ipsos poll found 70.1% support and 51.9% support among self-identified Republicans. The numbers are actually remarkable consistent across many polls. Roughly 70% say they support Medicare for All, assuming that it means people can keep private policies. The numbers hover around 40% if they’re told that’s not true.
But just as consistently polls show that people assume Medicare for All means the option to opt into Medicare or keep their own private insurance. Much like the new Marist poll a January 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 55% of adults believed Medicare for All would allow people to retain their private coverage if they chose. When told it would “eliminate private health insurance companies” that support collapses, going from slightly more than 70% to just 37%....
The reaction to these stark numbers from Medicare for All advocates has been telling and instructive. Of course, if you focus on perceived negatives or scare tactics, support falls! But this makes no sense. You can’t understand the popularity or political viability of a policy without figuring in counter-arguments that will certainly be used in the political arena. This is especially the case with counter-arguments which are actually true!
The secondary response has settled down to daring people to find anyone who likes their insurance company. Nobody likes their insurance company ergo these numbers can’t be true or don’t mean anything or don’t matter. It’s a pretty effective dare. Who raises their hand at a town hall meeting to give a big thumbs up to their health insurance company? Unfortunately that doesn’t really prove anything or at least what advocates what it to prove.
Here we have the kernel of magical thinking inspiring this whole debate: advocates belief that if something doesn’t make sense, it actually can’t be true. It’s certainly true that more or less everyone has complaints about their insurance company. And it’s hard to find people who affirmatively like or have some devotion to their insurance company since the whole system is a mess. But it simply doesn’t flow from that that people support doing away with private insurance or being forced to give up their current insurance. To pretend otherwise ignores basically everything we know about public risk aversion, especially tied to health care, and people’s perception that while what they currently may not be ideal something else might be worse. Call it relative privilege or advantage and people’s resistance to losing it....
He concludes:
"Of course, none of this means that people shouldn’t support Medicare for All or other comparable single player plans on the merits. A substantial minority of Americans do support it. Indeed, more practically, without a vibrant left supporting such a model the public debate is inevitably skewed to the right. A decade ago the legislative debate on Capitol Hill largely focused on whether or not what we now call Obamacare would include a “public option.” It failed because of stiff opposition from insurers and opposition from centrist Senate Democrats. Now that’s basically the centrist fallback position and Republicans running for office, as opposed to working the courts, have basically given up on gutting Obamacare. Indeed, ‘Medicare for America’, one of the major Medicare buy-in style plans proposed by wonks at the Center for American Progress, is as the name implies in large measure a reaction to the Medicare for All push. But that’s not what the proposal entitled “Medicare for All” actually does. It’s a single payer plan in which private health care plans would be prohibited except for supplemental plans which covers services or deductibles not covered by the standard plan.
There is every reason to believe that Medicare for All would be a major electoral liability for a Democratic presidential candidate in a general election – just on the basis of what the plan actually does, let alone the way the GOP and the health care industry writ large would pile on to that with a campaign of lies, horror stories and propaganda. It could well mean the difference between Trump’s defeat or reelection by effectively nullifying the Democrats big advantage on health care and giving the GOP a cudgel to sour a significant amount of the electorate on the Democratic candidate."
Like Marshall, I get why people would be attracted to the Medicare for All idea. But I continue to be surprised at people's willingness to ignore or try to explain away the clear evidence that the program would be a serious electoral liability. Sure it would be nice if that weren't so. But it is.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Matt Yglesias, Common Sense Democrat

I don't normally think of Vox as my go-to place for Common Sense Democrat material. More often than not they're six feet under in the identity politics tank.
Matt Yglesias can be an exception though and he is savvy enough to be disciplined by actually-existing data. He has an excellent piece up on the not-exactly-rocket-science idea that "Democrats should run on the popular progressive ideas, but not the unpopular ones". (Point #6 of the Common Sense Democrat creed!)
"Most voters are not particularly attuned to factional debates, and they just like some ideas and not others. Rather than clinging to one or the other comprehensive agenda, Democrats might want to consider opening themselves up to the idea of just running on popular ideas."
Say, now there's an idea!
"Marist’s numbers, for reference, show overwhelming public support for a path to citizenship for the undocumented population, for an aggressive public option approach to universal health care, and for a “Green New Deal” of public investment in clean energy and efficient retrofits. Add that to a $15/hour minimum wage, throw in two high-polling gun control measures, legalize marijuana, and pay for the first two things with a wealth tax, and you’ve got a solidly popular vision for transforming America.
But even though these ideas are popular and progressive, it doesn’t follow that the entire progressive agenda is popular.
Insisting on a pure single-payer solution, which many on the left has turned into a litmus test, doesn’t seem very popular. Opening up public sector health programs to people residing in the United States illegally — an idea every Democrat endorsed on the second night of the first primary debates — is very unpopular. So is decriminalizing border crossing and providing reparations for slavery. Abolishing the death penalty, which electability-oriented moderate Joe Biden came out for this week, polls very poorly. A carbon tax does not do very well either.....
That’s no reason to avoid running on 17 substantively solid, politically popular ideas if you’ve got them. But if it turns out you only have nine, that’s not so bad. Odds are that nine is a lot more than you can do.
Which is to say that there’s no reason practically to insist on weighing down the ticket with ideas (“free health care for illegal immigrants”) that won’t pass anyway, Democrats could focus on a narrower list of progressive ideas that are popular (a path to citizenship for the undocumented would, among other things, help them get health care) win the election, and then implement those ideas.
Democrats would have to let go of some cherished ideological nostrums (like reparations) and party feuds (like over abolishing private insurance). But the strictly popular items on the list are a genuinely ambitious progressive agenda that would, if implemented, help improve the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans. And the stakes are extremely high."
I've really got nothing to add here other than a hearty Common Sense Democrat right on, brother!
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Friday, July 26, 2019

Trump's Strategy May Not Work with White Noncollege Women--That's a Big Opportunity for Democrats

It's no secret that white noncollege women on average are far more accessible for the Democrats than white noncollege men. If the Democrats are to make headway among white noncollege voters in 2020--which is one of the keys if not the key to defeating Trump--it will likely be concentrated among this group.
But how feasible is that in light of Trump's decision to turn up the volume on immigration and immigrants in an overtly racist way? Will this perhaps consolidate his support among the white working class voters who supported him in 2016 and prevent Democrats from making any gains?
I think there are lots of reasons to doubt this (see my previous posts) but the gaping hole in this strategy--if it is a strategy--is that white noncollege women seem less than enthusiastic about Trump's amped-up belligerence. Ron Brownstein notes the following from a series of focus groups conducted among white noncollge voters in nonmetro areas of Nevada, Maine and Wisconsin:
"The women weren’t immune to Trump’s arguments on immigration...But among...women...areas of agreement were mitigated by other concerns about Trump, including their belief that, on immigration, “his rhetoric … made him sound ‘racist’ or ‘ignorant,’” as the report notes. “There were a lot of mentions of intolerance in reaction to what he was saying and doing,” [Stan] Greenberg says.
That recoil represents one component of the broader unease these women expressed about the level of acrimony and division under Trump. While the men almost entirely found ways to justify Trump, the women expressed much more discomfort about the way he talks about race-related issues, his overall style, and whether he respects women....
Women were also more likely than men in the groups to say that Trump’s economy hasn’t delivered improvement for their family, and they were more likely to cite rising health-care and prescription-drug costs as an especially acute squeeze. In both parties, strategists I’ve talked with agree that Democratic promises to defend the Affordable Care Act, particularly its provisions safeguarding patients with preexisting conditions, were crucial to the party’s recovery among blue-collar white women in 2018."
Of course, these findings are from focus groups and I am always cautious about focus group-based analyses. But the findings gain credibility when we look at what the quantitative data are telling us. In the recently-released NPR/Marist poll, an amazing 47 percent of white noncollege women said they definitely planned to vote against Trump in 2020, more than planned to definitely vote for him (45 percent).
According to the poll, 67 percent of these women support Medicare for all who want it; 67 percent support a wealth tax and 64 percent support a national minimum wage of $15, with lower but still positive support for a Green New Deal focused on jobs and infrastructure and a for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the country. Sounds pretty good!
However, there is very little enthusiasm for the following:
Medicare for All that replaces private health insurance (38 percent support)
Providing health insurance for illegal immigrants (21 percent)
Decriminalizing illegal border crossings (24 percent)
Reparations (15 percent)
So there is definitely an opportunity here for Democrats in 2020, as Trump's strategy leaves him highly vulnerable among this key demographic. It also seems obvious what to do (and what not to do) to take advantage of this opportunity. Let's hope Democrats play it smart.
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His strategy rests on a bet: that these voters will respond just as enthusiastically to his belligerence as working-class white men.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Medicare for All Vs. Medicare for All Who Want It: It's Not Even Close!

Point #6 of the Common Sense Democrat creed is: "Of course, Democrats should not run against Trump with positions that are unambiguously unpopular". Well, we have some new evidence on which policies are and are not popular from the Marist/NPR poll. As Nate Silver points out, Medicare for All that replaces private health insurance is comparatively unpopular even among Democrats and fares far worse among other voters. What's really popular is Medicare for All Who Want it:
"In the Marist poll, 90 percent of Democrats thought a plan that provided for a public option was a good idea, as compared to 64 percent who supported a Sanders-style Medicare for All plan that would replace private health insurance. The popularity of the public option also carries over to independent voters: 70 percent support it, as compared to 39 percent for Medicare for All."
Gee, sometimes I wish there was a policy that appealed to all the various demographic groups Democrats need to worry about: Nonwhites, Millennials/Gen Z, white college gradautes and, yes, white noncollege voters. Hey, wait a minute!
Support for Medicare for All Who Want It:
Nonwhites: 78 percent
Millennials/Gen Z: 79 percent
White college graduates: 70 percent
White noncollege: 65 percent
Well, how about that. Maybe, just maybe, that would be a good way to run against Trump.
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Last week, I noted that Bernie Sanders is winning over Democratic primary voters on health care. Whether you love, hate or are indifferent toward his “Medicare …

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Who Are the Persuadable White Working Class Voters?

Point #1 of my recent post on Common Sense Democrats was "Of course, Democrats need to reach persuadable white working class voters". To which some might say, OK, but who are they? I have written about this myself from time to time but I want to refer you here to my old friend Andy Levison's superb essay on just this subject, published on the Democratic Strategist site.
The essay starts out with some hypothetical ads about Trump's character that might be aimed at white working class voters in the Rustbelt and then goes on to explain in some detail why this is the right approach to take. As Levison notes later on in his essay:
"Trump did indeed deeply disgust millions of college educated Americans who had previously voted Republican but at the same time the condescending tone of Hillary’s campaign reinforced Trump’s ability to project himself as an authentic, “no bullshit” champion of the white working class against the smug liberal elite. Hillary’s use of the word “deplorables” to describe many Trump supporters became a viral watchword among white working class voters because it seemed to so perfectly reflect the campaign’s implicit, and indeed at times explicitly condescending attitude toward white working class Americans.
In the view of many observers the intense desire of many white working class voters to “send a message” repudiating this kind of attitude played a major role in Trump’s victory in 2016. As Joan Williams vividly expressed the sentiment: “[white workers] voted with their middle finger.”
Given these obstacles, what strategies can Democrats reasonably consider for reducing Trump’s support among the nonracist sector of the white working class? The answer is a frontal, ‘No holds barred” attack on the specific aspects of Trump’s character that offend the decent and admirable moral values of white workers."
Of course, for all too many progressives the very assertion that such "decent and admirable moral values" exist among this group may be hard to swallow. But it shouldn't be. Consider Levision's four defining characteristics of persuadable white working class voters. It should not be hard to see how thoroughly admirable values can be part of such voters' makeup.
"1. They are not primarily motivated by racism
There is, of course, a very substantial group of white working class voters who are primarily attracted to Trump because of his racism and Democratic strategists are entirely correct in writing these voters off as entirely unreachable. As Trump has fanned the flames of racial prejudice in recent weeks the vision of all Trump supporters as vicious bigots who shout “send her back” at Trump’s rallies becomes difficult to resist.
But there are other white working people who voted for Trump in 2016 and yet who do not actually share his deep and bitter racial animosity. They do not think about race and prejudice in the same “liberal” way that Democrats and progressives do, for example by supporting Black Lives Matter or demanding the abolition of ICE. Instead they are more accurately visualized as practical, common–sense “live and let live” people who simply do not feel any strong, visceral antagonism toward minorities as a “front burner” political issue. They will, for example, generally agree that the Mexican border and illegal immigration should be controlled and that criminals should be severely punished but they do not consider race by itself to be a deeply emotional, vote-deciding issue.
This is the subgroup of voters that Democratic strategy can realistically target. They are the kinds of white working class voters who voted for Trump in 2016 but for Democratic candidates last November.....
2. They are cultural traditionalists
Cultural traditionalism is often confused with conservatism because people who are ideological conservatives very often uphold traditional cultural ideas. But cultural traditionalism is a distinct concept from conservatism, one that refers to a set of basic social values that exist in working-class life and not to specific social or political views. Within this set of basic traditional social values, various perspectives can exist, perspectives that can range from firmly conservative to strongly progressive.
There are three major traditional values in white working-class culture: respect for religious faith, respect for military service, and respect for the character traits encouraged by small business, honest labor, and hard work. Many workers with this set of values have nonetheless voted for Democrats in the past and can be convinced to do so again in the future.
3. They feel a profound class antagonism toward the “liberal” elite
Donald Trump, vile and dishonest as he may be, very successfully tapped into a deep mental and emotional perspective in white working-class life—a distinct kind of modern class consciousness, class resentment, and class antagonism that is almost entirely unacknowledged in current discussions regarding how to reach these voters, but which plays a critical role in their political thinking.
From the point of view of many white working-class Americans, society is indeed sharply divided between, on the one hand, “people like them,” and on the other hand three distinct and separate elites who in different ways are “screwing them over.”
The first group is the “political class....The second group is the Wall Street financial elite...But the third group is the “liberal” elite—the heterogeneous group of college professors and students, Hollywood actors and producers, music and fashion producers, and TV, newspaper, and magazine columnists and commentators....They are perceived as affluent urban dwellers who live in expensive, gentrified urban communities or charming college towns, who look down on ordinary working people.....
4. They are convinced that Democrats don’t give a damn about them while Trump sincerely identifies with them and cares about them."
But of course he doesn't. And that's where his true vulnerability lies. If Democrats can convince these voters that it is Democrats, not Trump, who really gives a damn about them, they will make serious inroads on Trump's support. In important ways, it's really that simple.


Monday, July 22, 2019

Common Sense Democrats: A Modest Proposal

Looking forward to 2020, Democrats have a lot of very important questions that can reasonably be debated, from the specific candidate to nominate to which issues to emphasize to the best campaign tactics. But there is a need for political common sense to undergird these debates. If polling, trend data, campaign history and/or electoral arithmetic make clear that certain approaches are minimum requirements for success, they should be front-loaded into the discussion. That way discussion can focus on what is truly important instead of endlessly relitigating questions that are essentially settled.
In other words, start with common sense and then build from there. There will still be plenty of room for debates between left and right in the party, but matters of common sense should be neither left nor right. They are simply what is and what anyone's strategy, whatever their political leanings, must take into account.
Let's call practitioners of this approach "Common Sense Democrats". Here are 7 propositions Common Sense Democrats should agree on.
1. Of course, Democrats need to reach persuadable white working class voters. There is abundant evidence that such voters exist, that they were particularly important in the 2018 elections, that such voters have serious reservations about Trump and that they are central to a winning electoral coalition in Rustbelt states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Shifts among such voters do not have to be large to be effective.
2. Of course, Democrats need to target the Rustbelt. Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were the closest states in 2016, gave the Democrats big bounceback victories in 2018 and, of states Clinton did not win in 2016 currently give Trump the lowest approval ratings.
3. Of course, Democrats need to promote as high turnout as possible among supportive constituencies like nonwhites and younger voters. But evidence indicates that high turnout is not a panacea and cannot be substituted for persuasion efforts.
4. Of course, Democrats need to compete strongly in southern and southwestern swing states like Arizona, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. Recent election results, trend data and Trump approval ratings all indicate that these states are accessible to Democrats though less so than the key Rustbelt states. As such, they form a necessary complement to Rustbelt efforts but not a substitute.
5. Of course, Democrats need to run on more than denouncing Trump and Trump's racism. One lesson of the 2016 campaign is that it is not enough to "call out' Trump for having detestable views. That did not work then and it is not likely to work now. Democrats' 2018 successes were based on far more than that, effectively employing issue contrasts that disadvantaged the GOP. Trump will be happy to have a unending conversation about "the squad" and those who denounce his denunciations. Don't let him.
6. Of course, Democrats should not run against Trump with positions that are unambiguously unpopular. These include, but are not limited to, abolishing ICE, reparations, abolishing private health insurance and decriminalizing the border. Whatever merits such ideas may have as policy--and these are generally debatable--there is strong evidence that they are quite unpopular with most voters and therefore will operate as a drag on the Democratic nominee.
7. Of course, Democrats should focus on what will maximize their probability of beating Trump. By this I mean there are plenty of strategies that have some chance of beating Trump--if such and such happens, if such and such goes right. You can always tell a story. But the important thing is: what maximizes your chance of victory, given what we know about political trends and the current state of public opinion. In this election, we can afford nothing less.
Common Sense Democrats. Go forth and multiply.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

How the Electoral Vote and Popular Vote Could Diverge Once Again or The Inescapable Centrality of the Rustbelt

I don't think people pay enough attention to how possible it is that the 2016 divergence could occur again in 2020. The States of Change report from last year (Demographic Shifts and the Future of the Trump Coalition) pointed this out in some detail. Nate Cohn expands on this idea in a lengthy, data-rich article in the Times. Perhaps most intriguingly, he finds that this unpleasant scenario for the Democrats might actually be more likely in a high turnout election, typically viewed as a big thumb on the scales for the Democrats.
Here's Cohn's case:
"President Trump’s approval ratings are under water in national polls. His position for re-election, on the other hand, might not be quite so bleak.
His advantage in the Electoral College, relative to the national popular vote, may be even larger than it was in 2016, according to an Upshot analysis of election results and polling data....
For now, the mostly white working-class Rust Belt states, decisive in the 2016 election, remain at the center of the electoral map, based on our estimates. The Democrats have few obviously promising alternative paths to win without these battleground states. The president’s approval ratings remain higher in the Sun Belt battlegrounds than in the Rust Belt, despite Democratic hopes of a breakthrough....
Alone, the president’s relative advantage in the Electoral College does not necessarily make him a favorite to win. His approval rating is well beneath 50 percent in states worth more than 270 electoral votes, including in the Northern battleground states that decided the 2016 election.....
But Mr. Trump’s approval rating has been stable even after seemingly big missteps. And if it improves by a modest amount — not unusual for incumbents with a strong economy — he could have a distinct chance to win re-election while losing the popular vote by more than he did in 2016, when he lost it by 2.1 percentage points.
The president’s relative advantage in the Electoral College could grow even further in a high-turnout election, which could pad Democratic margins nationwide while doing little to help them in the Northern battleground states.
It is even possible that Mr. Trump could win while losing the national vote by as much as five percentage points."
Five points! Yup, it could happen.
But what about higher turnout you say. Wouldn't that solve the problem? Maybe....but then again, maybe not. Here's the deal:
"Many assume that the huge turnout expected in 2020 will benefit Democrats, but it’s not so straightforward. It could conceivably work to the advantage of either party, and either way, higher turnout could widen the gap between the Electoral College and the popular vote.
That’s because the major Democratic opportunity — to mobilize nonwhite and young voters on the periphery of politics — would disproportionately help Democrats in diverse, often noncompetitive states.
The major Republican opportunity — to mobilize less educated white voters, particularly those who voted in 2016 but sat out 2018 — would disproportionately help them in white, working-class areas overrepresented in the Northern battleground states...
In recent months, analysts have speculated about a 70 percent turnout among eligible voters, up from 60 percent in 2016.
In this kind of high-turnout presidential election, by our estimates, the tipping-point state would drift to the right as people who voted in 2016 but not in 2018 return to the electorate and nudge states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin toward the president. At the same time, the Sun Belt would drift left. Arizona could overtake Wisconsin as the tipping-point state. But even in this hypothetical high-turnout election, the president’s approval rating in Arizona would be higher than it was in 2018 in Wisconsin. It becomes harder for the Democrats to win the presidency....
Democrats could nominate a candidate who tries to win the presidency by mobilizing a new, diverse coalition with relative strength in Sun Belt states, while making little or no effort to secure the support of the white working-class voters with reservations about the president.
The Democrats could certainly win in the Sun Belt states, even in Texas. Perhaps this kind of Democrat could generate such a favorable turnout that it helps the party even in relatively white states.
But it’s also a strategy that would tend to increase the risk of a wide gap between the Electoral College and the national vote. It’s also hard to see how it would be the easier way forward for Democrats, at least as long as the president’s approval rating in the Rust Belt remains so much lower than in the Sun Belt states."
There's a lot more in the article, including detailed state by state approval ratings and a very interesting discussion of Trump's standing in Wisconsin overall and in the Milwaukee metro area in particular.eas
But would you like a very short summary of what all these data are saying? Here it is: fight like hell for the Rustbelt--especially Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin--or risk a second term for President Trump even as the Democratic candidate easily carries the popular vote.
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Re-election looks plausible even with a bigger loss in the national popular vote.